After three years of Joe vs. the Pro, this much is certain: Big 12 defensive backs have a better chance of scoring picks against Geno Smith than Joe Goodman, The Herald’s national college football, ever will have at picking games.
Smith, the quarterback at West Virginia, has thrown 20 touchdown passes this season without an interception. If you divide Smith’s completion percentage (83.4) in half, you’d get around the same number as Goodman’s percentage against the spread (42.8).
Smith, of course, had an otherworldly game last week against Baylor, throwing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. The Miramar High graduate faces his toughest test so far this season Saturday when the Mountaineers visit Texas, which is favored by a touchdown.
Lee Sterling of ParamountSports.com, the Pro of this weekly feature, ventures confidently into Week 6 after going 8-0 straight-up and 6-2 against the spread last week. Overall, Sterling is 30-10 straight-up and 18-17 against the spread. Joe went 6-2 straight-up and 4-4 against the spread last week and is 31-8 straight-up for the season and 15-20 against the spread. This week’s picks:
West Virginia at Texas
• Joe: The Mountaineers defeated Baylor last week despite their apoplectic defense, which allowed 700 yards of offense. This might be West Virginia’s first away game in the Big 12, but Geno Smith is a veteran quarterback comfortable on the big stage. West Virginia 45, Texas 42
• Pro: To win on the road you need to stop the run and run the football. I’m not sure Mountaineers can do either in their first true road game of the year. Texas 48, West Virginia 38
Miami at Notre Dame
Line: Notre Dame by 13• Joe: Stephen Morris delivered an inspirational performance last week but he’ll be called upon to do again. The Irish, ranked 15th nationally in total defense (291.25 yards per game), will force the Canes to pass and Morris must deliver. Miami 28, Notre Dame 25
• Pro: Experienced Irish offensive line versus undersized and inexperienced Canes defensive line is a mismatch even red-hot Morris can’t overcome. Low temperatures in the mid-40’s could lead to fumbles and interceptions as Irish add to their plus-nine turnover ratio. Notre Dame 38, Miami 13
LSU at Florida• Line: LSU by 2 ½
• Joe: LSU is suddenly vulnerable after last week’s scare against Towson. I wouldn’t look into that game too much. Young Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel is talented but not quite ready for the likes of LSU’s defense. LSU 18, Florida 15
• Pro: Everyone keeps talking about the Tigers’ defense but the Gator stop unit is now ranked in the top 10 in all four major statistical categories. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger seems to be getting worse every week. Florida 20, LSU 13
Florida State at N.C. State
• Joe: FSU beat N.C. State 34-0 last year. This one seems like a no-brainer to me. FSU 42, N.C. State 20
• Pro: The biggest mystery in Raleigh, N.C., is how can you return the entire secondary and be so much worse. Special teams advantage for Noles (ranked No.1 while Wolfpack is No. 88) could lead to a cheap FSU TD and cover. Florida State 40, N.C. State 21
South Florida at Temple
Line: USF by 4• Joe: Steve Addazio loathes the forward pass. Temple is ranked 120th in category. Bulls end their skid this weekend. USF 25, Temple 20
• Pro: Owls had a bye week but it probably doesn’t matter when you have the 120th-ranked passing offense and 121st-ranked defense. USF 28, Temple 17
Georgia at South Carolina• Line: South Carolina by 2
• Joe: College football’s game of the week. Gamecocks have the defensive line to match up with the Bulldogs. USC running back Marcus Lattimore proves to be the difference. South Carolina 21, Georgia 18
• Pro: First lesson in handicapping is never to fade a hot quarterback. Gamecocks triggerman Connor Shaw has completed 35 of his 39 attempts the past two weeks. South Carolina 27, Georgia 23
Nebraska at Ohio State
• Joe: Nebraska, ranked fifth nationally in rushing yards (305.8 yards per game), will do its best to keep OSU quarterback Braxton Miller off the field. The only thing I can predict with confidence is an all-out slugfest. Nebraska 20, Ohio State 18
• Pro: Miller is getting worn down and banged up and might not make it through the regular season at this pace. Cornhuskers a stellar 9-3-1 ATS vs ranked opponents and build off comeback victory over Badgers last week. Nebraska 26, Ohio State 24
Michigan at Purdue• Line: Michigan by 3
• Joe: Yet another difficult game to wager. I’m eyeing an impressive bounce-back game for Denard Robinson after his frightful performance against Notre Dame. Michigan 35, Purdue 30.
• Pro: In Wolverines’ 36-14 victory last year, they pounded Boilermakers’ defense, amassing 339 rushing yards. Michigan offense makes amends for turnover-filled loss to Notre Dame. Michigan 34, Purdue 27
Joe vs. The Pro is a weekly college football feature that analyzes games and predicts the outcome against the spread. Sterling, a nationally respected numbers man, has been analyzing spreads for more than 20 years. Joe analyzes spreads in less than 20 seconds.